ICS Healthcare Access Program
ICS’s Healthcare Access Program seeks to promote health care equity for people with physical disabilities by increasing access to health care services, in collaboration with New York City medical facilities that serve the general public.
This goal is based on the belief that people with disabilities should have access to the same medical facilities as others. We believe that facilities should be able to provide the best possible care without seeing that care as a burden, and that only by moving in this inclusive direction will women with disabilities finally receive the health care they need and are legally entitled to, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The ICS Blueprint for Providing Healthcare to People with Physical Disabilities
Although decades have passed since the adoption of federal, state, and local anti-discrimination laws aimed at removing barriers to healthcare for people with disabilities, dramatic disparities in care persist. The Blueprint for Improving Access to Primary Care for Adults with Physical Disabilities was published in 2016 with support from the New York State Health Foundation. It arose from our collaboration with a group of devoted doctors, policymakers, healthcare administrators, activists, and consumers with disabilities. The Blueprint is based on our experience making healthcare services accessible to our members. It is a step-by-step guide for primary care providers to expanding access to care for adults with disabilities. You can learn more, and can read or download the Blueprint here. We are also happy to provide printed copies.
Breast Cancer Screening
When we created the ICS Breast Cancer Screening Project for Women with Physical Disabilities in 2008, our aim was to create a model that would increase access and reduce barriers to breast cancer screening for women with physical disabilities.
With funding from the Greater NYC Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® for seven consecutive years, we have developed a network of collaborators and are achieving our goals:
- We now have partnerships with four major medical facilities in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx: Morrisania Diagnostic and Treatment Center, New York Presbyterian, Woodhull Medical Center and the Breast Examination Center of Harlem
- By collecting patient information in advance, providing comprehensive disability-competency training to medical facility staff, and having a nurse educator accompany each patient to her appointment, we’ve simplified the mammography process for ICS members
- Over 325 women with disabilities have had potentially life-saving breast cancer screenings that would not have been possible at non-accessible facilities
- Over 1800 women have been impacted by the project through education/outreach, including workshops, conferences, and mailings.
A generous grant from the Baisley Powell Elebash Fund in 2012 enabled us to expand the Health Access Program to include gynecological care for women with physical disabilities. Gynecological care is provided in the Bronx at Morrisania Diagnostic and Treatment Center and in Brooklyn at Woodhull Hospital. Over 120 women have received gynecological care through the program.
We also continue to advocate for changes in policies and practices that affect access, disability competency training for health care personnel and students, and education and empowerment for women with physical disabilities to advocate on their own behalf. With a 2014 grant from the New York Community Trust, ICS has partnered with the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) to provide in-person disability sensitivity and awareness training to women’s health staff and disability competency training to clinical staff at eight hospitals and diagnostic and treatment centers. In addition, we created a disability sensitivity and awareness training video that is incorporated into the annual staff training curriculum for approximately 39,000 HHC staff members.
Other notable achievements of the ICS Women’s Health Access Program include:
- The ICS Breast Screening Project was selected by Komen as 2011 Grantee of the Year
- ICS released a report—in collaboration with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI)—titled “Breaking Down Barriers, Breaking the Silence: Making Health Care Accessible for Women with Disabilities,” which prompted a New York City Council public hearing on accessibility in the NYC health care system.
- Taking the recommendations put forth by ICS and NYLPI in the “Breaking Down Barriers” report, in the fall of 2012, the New York City Council held a public hearing that addressed the lack of accessible health care for women with physical disabilities in NYC’s Health and Hospital Corporation (HHC). Following the hearing, the City Council allocated funds to HHC to renovate and buy accessible equipment for some of the women’s health areas in HHC facilities.
- Marilyn E. Saviola, ICS Vice President of Advocacy and the Health Access Program, received the prestigious 2013 Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize, on behalf of ICS’s Breast Cancer Screening Project, for distinguished accomplishment in urban public health. Read more.
- Carole Baraldi, RN, senior contributor to the development of the ICS Breast Cancer Screening Project, reported on results from the project at the 2013 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in her presentation, “Breast Cancer Screening Project for Women with Physical Disabilities.”
- As a result of our advocacy, in August 2013 the New York State Department of Health released a “Dear Administrator” letter to all hospitals, diagnostic and treatment centers, and private medical practices throughout the state reminding them of their legal obligation to provide equal health care to people with disabilities in a barrier free environment. The letter also urged them to adopt essential elements of the program model we had developed and named ICS as the only nonprofit direct service provider among the five suggested resources listed in the letter.
- In 2016, with a grant from the New York State Health Foundation, we published the ICS Blueprint for Improving Access to Primary Care for Adults with Physical Disabilities.
Recent publications released by the ICS Women’s Health Access Program can be downloaded below:
The ICS Health Access Program Wants to Hear From You If you have been prevented from getting healthcare services because of your disability or feel you have been discriminated against by a healthcare facility because of your disability, the ICS Health Access Program can help. Download
The ICS Blueprint for Providing Healthcare to People with Physical Disabilities A step-by-step guide for primary care providers to expanding access to care for adults with disabilities based on our experience making healthcare services accessible to our members. Download
2 Year Report on Breast Cancer Screening Project’s Preliminary Findings Two years after launching the ICS Breast Cancer Screening Project in April 2008, project leaders reported on their preliminary findings, key lessons learned, and requirements for replicating their successful model. Download
Women with Disabilities and Breast Cancer: Know Your Rights Tip Sheet As a part of ICS’s ongoing commitment to helping women with disabilities receive the best possible health care, the ICS Women’s Health Program published a tip sheet in March 2013 entitled, “Women with Disabilities and Breast Cancer: Know Your Rights.” Download in English or Spanish.
Breaking Down Barriers, Breaking the Silence: Making Health Care Accessible for Women with Disabilities The ICS Women’s Health Access Program, in partnership with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, published a groundbreaking report in 2012 titled “Breaking Down Barriers, Breaking the Silence: Making Health Care Accessible for Women with Disabilities.” Download
ICS seeks dedicated partners to further develop and implement our pioneering Health Access Program. For more information, contact Marilyn Saviola, Vice President for Advocacy and the Health Access Program, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-584-2587; or Claire Abenante, Program Director, at email@example.com or 646.653.6391.